A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary tract, such as the bladder, urethra, uterus, and kidneys. UTIs occur most often in women and can occur due to fungi and viruses, but are usually the result of bacteria from the bowels. Symptoms of UTIs can include, among other things, frequent urination, dark or cloudy urine, urine with a strong smell, a sensation of burning when urinating, pelvic pain, and a feeling of still needing to pee after emptying the bladder.
If any of this is descriptive of your situation, you may be experiencing a UTI. But don’t worry, there is plenty that you can do to overcome these symptoms both at home and with your doctor’s help.
ALT: A female nurse reading a chart next to her female patient.
Home Remedies and Over the Counter (OTC) Medications
The majority of healthcare providers strongly recommend that you reach out to a medical professional as soon as you begin to notice UTI symptoms, and you most definitely should. However, additional home remedies are beneficial in treating the pain and discomfort that UTIs can frequently cause. Contact your doctor and utilize these tips to help yourself start feeling better sooner rather than later.
Drink Lots of Water and Avoid Problematic Beverages
It’s always important to drink water, but it’s essential if you have a UTI. Water helps to dilute your urine, which can help make urinating less painful. Ensuring that you stay well hydrated also means that you’ll be going to the bathroom more, which can help you eliminate the problematic bacteria causing the infection. While this will not cure a UTI, it is important to help treat the condition and improve your quality of life while you address the infection.
If you have a UTI, it’s also recommended to stay away from alcohol or caffeinated drinks since they have the potential to make urination even more painful.
While OTC medications for UTIs cannot outright cure the infection, they can help to alleviate some of the symptoms caused by it. Pain medications like naproxen and ibuprofen can also be quite useful in easing the uncomfortable sensations UTIs can create.
Low levels of heat can help ease some of the discomfort associated with cramps and abdominal pains that come along with UTIs. Make sure that you’re using it safely, however, as improper use can cause severe burns. If you use a heating pad on the highest setting, remove it after 15 to 30 minutes. You can keep it on for a more extended period if you’re using a lower heat setting.
Related: Vaginal Odor Treatment
ALT: A smiling female doctor.
Though the treatments above can help mitigate the symptoms caused by UTIs, antibiotics are the only real way of eliminating the infection. For uncomplicated Infections, doctors will commonly prescribe one of the following antibiotics:
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
- Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)
- Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
After starting one of these treatments, you should ideally begin to see your symptoms clear up in between two and three days.
Doctors may recommend a longer-term antibiotic, estrogen therapy in the vaginal area if you are postmenopausal, or other treatments for those with frequent or severe infections. If your UTIs seem to be related to sexual activity, your doctor may also prescribe single-dose antibiotics to take after intercourse.
Healthy Habits to Help Prevent UTIs
ALT: A woman meeting with her male doctor over a video call.
Do you need help dealing with a persistent or recurrent UTI? Reach out to GuruMD and make an appointment with one of their trained medical professionals today.
Start Taking a Probiotic
Probiotics can be found in several different foods or taken as a supplement, and they work to create a healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut. Studies have found that using a probiotic can decrease UTIs’ risk and that treatments involving both antibiotics and a probiotic were more effective at preventing reoccurring UTIs than antibiotics alone.
Drink Cranberry Juice
Unsweetened cranberry juice is a well-known natural remedy for UTIs. Though scientific evidence for its effectiveness is mixed, cranberries can prevent bacteria buildup in the urinary tract, therefore helping to prevent an infection.
Increase Your Intake of Vitamin C
Vitamin C can increase your urine’s acidity, which can help kill off the bacteria that are causing a UTI if you already have one. It has also been found that increased amounts of vitamin C can significantly reduce your risk of developing a UTI.
Don’t Put Off Going to the Bathroom
You might not be able to always step away from whatever you’re doing for a quick bathroom break, but it’s essential for you not to hold in your urine for too long. Doing this can cause a buildup of bacteria in your urine, which can lead to an infection.
Wipe From Front to Back
After going to the bathroom, remember to always wipe from front to back. Wiping from back to front can carry bacteria to your urinary tract and kickstart an infection if you’re not careful.
Use the Bathroom After Sexual Intercourse
Neither you nor your partner may think it’s very sexy, but it’s a good idea to try and urinate after engaging in sexual intercourse. Doing this can help prevent the spread of bacteria by flushing it out of the urethra, reducing a UTI risk. However, it’s important to note that peeing after sex will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.
Are you suffering from the effects of a UTI and need the help of a medical professional? Check out GuruMD to see what they and their telemedicine services can do for you today.